What The Water Gave Me by Florence + The Machine.
What The Water Gave Me Part One.
Lay me down, let the only sound, be the overflow.
Sink or Swim - The 135th Hunger Games.
Personal Nanny Marisol Solis.
Snow Island. It was something you could only dream of.
For me, it was a dream. I remember many early mornings, waking up and walking out onto the pebble beach that lined half of District Eleven. The foggy hue would lay heavily on the sea, the peak of the island just visible in the distance. Sometimes, I would just stare. Stare and drink in the sights of where the rich and powerful could go. I would be trapped forever, but they could just be whisked away to a grove of palm trees and a golden beach that curved the island.
Living in poverty was hard. Having a big family was even harder. With parents working and younger siblings begging and crying for food, you did what you had to do. I did what I had to do.
The first time I stole wasn't so bad. A loaf of bread and a jar of marmalade, gently tucked away into my basket. No-one knew; it worked. I grow cocky, though. The second time I went for something bigger; a leg of lamb. I barely made it out of their alive, still concealing the fresh meat.
My third time saw my youth altered. Caught red-handed, desperately trying to sneak some cookies into my pockets for my little sister's birthday.
I was dragged from the shop, kicking and screaming. People pooled around the middle of the district, ready to watch the public execution.
I was only eleven years old. Uneducated, and suffering from everlasting hunger.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can hear the faint crack of leather, or the smell of my own blood caking my back. Stars were swimming in my vision when everything went black. I thought I was dead - that I was nothing more than a corpse - but I soon woke up... except, I was in the air. On a hovercraft, being whisked away like a prisoner.
They called me a slave. At first, the words didn't register, and my only reaction was to whimper and squirm on the medical bed. Blood flooded my tongue, something furry pressed against the roof of my mouth. It took me a while to realise that they had ripped out my tongue.
We arrived in the Capitol almost instantly.
And, once more, I was trapped... forever.
They pushed me onto a stage amongst other children, all from differing districts. I waited and watched as Capitolites flooding in, their wallets in their hands and their eyes trained on my body. They asked the foreman questions; like how much we could handle to carry, or the hours we'd be able to work.
I was to be sold like an item, like a toy.
I carefully fold the sheets, making sure that there are no creases. Mistress would be displeased if she found out. I wince, the bitter memory of my last punishment still lingers in my mind. Vivienne Belvaire is a cruel woman. She takes no prisoners when it comes to high demands, and even higher expectations.
But I've lasted years now. Two decades, in fact. Two decades I have served under the woman and this household, ever since she was but a toddler. My loyalty and new position gained me my tongue back. All Avoxs, those loyal and determined, would be given it back if required. To be a nanny, I needed to speak. I was blessed with a tongue, a second chance to speak again...
...only to spend it screaming most of the time.
The door opens wildly, slamming against the wall. I flinch, freezing in my tracks.
"Marisol," the woman drawls. "Have you finished the laundry yet?"
"No, Mistress." I reply quietly.
"See to it. We haven't got long until vacation, and Megana needs her clothes packed immediately." I turn around, Vivienne's jet black hair contrasting against the pristine, white walls. "Do I make myself clear?" I nod hurriedly. "Good. Now, have you seen Arturo?"
I swallow thickly. The young boy often wanders off, his juvenile mind something that gets him in a lot of trouble. "No, Mistress."
She crosses the room swiftly. I barely have time to prepare myself for the slap, before my cheek is soon stinging and I'm swallowing back tears. "Do not lie to me," she hisses. "Where is he?"
"He... he's with Sorbus attending to Mister Theodore's room." I cave.
Briskly, Vivienne leaves, the door slamming once more. Arturo is nothing more than a servant, an even worse job than the one I've been promoted to. He's only young - fourteen, he once signed to me - and was sent as a slave to this household, just because he questioned the Capitol's morals. He's brave and reckless. Something I can only wish for the future generation.
Quickly, I finish my chores, leaving the room in perfect condition. I rub my cheek as I walk down the hall, heading towards Megana's bedroom.
I knock twice, before it swings open. "Mary!" the girl screams, throwing herself at my legs.
I pry her from my dress. "Hello, sweetie," I coo, stroking her hair. "Are we ready to back your things?"
"I've already done them," she stands proudly. "Jakob helped me!"
She shoves the small white teddy bear in my face, the button black eyes looking hollow. I smile softly; that toy has done nothing but creeped me out. But, Megana is seven, and children at that age love their toys more than they do reality. Megana is the perfect example - a child bathed in riches, yet doesn't see that I'm nothing more than a slave, a servant, her nanny. She treats Arturo and the younger servants like friends, rather than the help.
I enter the room, the sickly smell of roses hitting my nostrils.
Megana is the daughter of Vivienne Belvaire, who happens to be Esmeralda Snow's step-daughter. It was a tragic meeting. Shortly after the Quarter Quell, I heard the murmurs in the Belvaire's household, of how Virgil, the Master, was dating Esmeralda Snow. When their engagement was announced, the family moved, and I was brought along seeing as I was their most trusted servant.
I would later become her midwife, and then the surrogate mother to a daughter who is lost to them all.
"Quick, we must hurry," I say softly, despite the urgency. It smothers my lungs, making me take heavy breaths. "Your family is waiting on the roof for you."
I usher Megana's belongings into my arms and clasp her hand. Gently, I pull her out of the room and along the hall, towards Raphael Belvaire's room, her uncle. I knock three times as required, and step back. The door opens and reveals the hulking man, his black hair gelled back. "Marisol." he says curtly.
"Mistress wanted me to bring Megana here, before the flight." I recite the words known to me.
"Thank you," he says coldly, turning to look at Megana. "And are you excited?"
Like she did with me, she throws herself at Raphael's legs. "Of course! I've never been to Snow Island before!"
He gently pats her on the head, looking at me with those dead eyes of his. "I think you'd be kind enough to find my sister. I believe your "kind" is being beaten as we speak." he states with a haunting whisper.
Something inside of me turns cold. Every time I converse with Raphael, I'm left feeling like he wants my blood. He's a cruel, depraved man, much like his sister. I bow, scurrying away as fast as my legs can take me. Being beaten? He must mean little Arturo... he probably got himself in trouble again... it's not my place, but he's so young.
I rush to Master Theodore's room. I stop when I near the door, the lithe boy leaning up against the wall. He looks over his glasses with a smile. "Vivienne is having one hell of a time in there."
"May I enter?" I ask, voice shaking. He simply shrugs. "Thank you." I whisper, rushing through.
The crack of the whip snaps my brain into alert.
"Please Mistress," Sorbus begs, Arturo curled up in a corner. He's simply cowering next to Sorbus, broken and beaten. He would cry if he could speak. "I was only trying to help young Arturo... h-he couldn't reach the s-shelf!"
"I caught you stealing the food!" she screams, spittle flying as she cracks the whip across his upper arm. Sorbus howls in pain.
Vivienne scowls. "Liar!" she lashes the whip across his back again, a broken sob breaking the air. Sorbus is older, much older than me and them, his grey hair and whiskers prominent. The pain could easily kill him. My heart pulsates as I step forward, gently putting myself in the scene. Vivienne pauses. "And what are you doing here, Marisol?"
My mind races for an answer. A lie, even. "Master Raphael. He asked for you," I look away, hoping not to be obvious. "Something about Megana."
She lowers her whip. "Is that so?" I nod. "Well then. You may leave, Sorbus," she cruelly steps over him, ignoring the whimpers. "Make sure you clean up your mess."
"Something tells me you enjoy abusing my name for your sadistic fantasies." I hear Theodore snigger from outside.
"Those worms need to learn their place. They are the help, not friends," she hisses. "Did Raphael really want me?"
I dare not move. My whole body freezes in one place, locked and tight. "Yes," he echoes. "Marisol was only doing her job. At least she does what she is expected to do." he lies... wait, he lied for me?
I take the opportunity fast, helping Sorbus to his feet. Arturo continues to cry, his face as pale as they come. I recognise the broken face: it looks exactly like most District Eleven children look like. Even here, their haunting resemblance catches him. I hastily place Sorbus on the bed, busying myself with cleaning the blood. Tears prick at my eyes, but I continue to scrub and dab, like I've always done most of my life.
The door opens, and a stream of light slivers through. My breath is taken away at the sight of the hovercraft, almighty under the morning sunlight. The last time I was on one, I was almost dead and being taken to a new life. Now, I'm still here.
"I'm so excited!" Megana squeals. "Mary, why can't you come?" she turns, frowning. Raphael's eyes burn into the back of my skull, and I shrink down onto my knees.
"I can't baby," I coo. "It's a family vacation. It's for you only."
"You're practically family." she pouts.
That I am. Even more so than her mother and non-existant father. "You'll have fun without me," I tuck a strand behind her ear. "And you can tell me all about it when you get back."
Over Megana's shoulder, I can see the family gathering around Esmeralda Snow. Age has finally captured her, wrinkles appearing on her once tight skin. Theodore stands idly by her side, not really registering his mother's presence. He's one of the few people that could disrespect her, and live to tell the tale.
I gently take Megana's hand and lead her over, Raphael close behind.
"Your stunt will not be accepted," he whispers. "Punishment will be ordered when we return."
An icy claw drags itself up my spine. I nod curtly, holding my breath as I reach the Snow and Belvaire family. Instantly, I recognise Esmeralda, Theodore, Vivienne, Virgil with his curly black hair, and Darlington, Vivienne's dusty token, hidden on the sidelines. Megana peels herself from my grasp and runs at her step-grandmother.
"Nanny!" she squeals. For the first time ever, I see Esmeralda smile, hauling the little girl into her arms. Theodore notably scowls from behind. "Why isn't Mary coming with us?"
"Mary? Who is Mary?" she inquires.
"Marisol Solis," Vivienne interjects. "Her nanny." she points her claw towards me, and I shrink under the glare.
Esmeralda purses her lips. "I don't see why Marisol cannot come with us," she says slowly, and my heart skips a beat. Everything inside of me screams in urgency, and Raphael's hand falls hard on my shoulder. "Come."
Raphael pushes me across the rooftop towards the lion's den. I haven't heard from Sorbus nor Arturo, which worries me even more than it should. "Yes, Mistress?"
"You may come with us. I already have an entire team of staff prepared, but alas, no nanny," she narrows her eyes, a sickly smile on her face. "You could fill that position, if you wish."
Snow Island? It was but a fleeting dream to me as a child. Now I have the chance to fly there, and explore the uncharted island. "Anything you wish, Mistress."
"Splendid," she places Megana down and cups her hands together. "I also hear on the grapevine that you have some friends? Sorbus Braxton, and Arturo Danes? They're right over there. Please join them."
I turn, my heart leaping to my throat. Sorbus and Arturo stand alongside the other slaves, many whom can talk, many whom are eternally silent. I nod hastily, prying myself from Raphael's grip as I rush over. Sorbus' eyes widen when I near, weathered looks making everything seem more... dire.
"Marisol? What are you doing here?" he whispers.
"Vacation," I reply hollowly. "I've been summoned to attend."
Sorbus frowns, his shirt stained a muted red. He's been to the island many times. Being head of repairs, Sorbus can speak, to direct instructions to the other slaves. He's always expected to attend wherever they go, in case of emergencies. "You'll wish you hadn't been..."
"Why?" I choke. Sorbus pulls a hollow Arturo into his side, the boy looking ahead without really looking.
He leans forward towards my ear. "You'll find out soon enough."
This is the sixth instalment to the EsmeraldaVerse. If you are unfamiliar as to why we are at this stage, please look on my profile at the EsmeraldaVerse prologue to understand. If you want, there's a blog for the EsmeraldaVerse Victors called Collection of the Damned, also on my profile (as well as a one-shot series for the Victors).
All deaths will be based on realism, story arcs and whether or not the submitter is reading the story. Obviously, reviews let me know this, and if said submitter chooses to not review, I have no idea if they're reading the story, and therefore, am more inclined to keep other tributes over said submitter's tribute. Each decision is painstakingly hard but must be done. Everyone knew the odds when they created a character. I would hope you stick around, but if not, I understand.
Longest prologue ever.
There were no hints (or was there?) as to the arena. The title pretty much sums up water, but that's about it. As you should know, I'm not one for clichéd arenas. I just wanted to show more of the Snow/Belvaire family, seeing as this Verse will have to end at some point.
Now, time to submit:
I have already received an onslaught of tributes by personal friends, meaning 11 spots are full.
However, the rest is up to you. You can submit for any of the other spots as you like.
I will be leaving submissions open until December 7th, of which I will choose the rest of the tributes for the story (thus your back-up could save you!), and message the successful ones. I'm no good at declining people - because I want to please everyone - so don't be offended if I don't reply/decline your tribute, it's nothing personal. Honestly.
Besides: I have two more SYOTs after this planned to wrap up my time here, so always luck next time!
You can keep updated on my profile. It will show the 11 spots taken, and the number of forms received - including girls and boys numbers - will be recorded also.